Thursday, December 1, 2011

Maybe a little virus will cure cancer

I find this very cool. A little research lab in Pennsylvania thought they had a broken incubator but may have stumbled on a significant breakthrough in a cure for cancer. As I am not technical and did not sleep well last night and have not had enough caffeine (not that I drink coffee any more and more only inhale the aroma) I will attempt my explanation:

There is a very simple virus that was being tested on cervical cancer cells which is believed to be caused by the Human Papilloma Virus. Someone left the virus cells in an incubator with the cancer cells and then went back and the cancer cells were liquified. They thought the incubator was broken but then could repeat this phenomenon and with other kinds of cancer cells. Now is that cool or what? Making cancer cells liquify and go away. Sign me up baby! I'm there.

BUT... Of course there is a big fat BUT here (not a big fat BUTT which is an entirely different thing). It has to finish being tested and going through trials. Which can take a couple of billion (yes with a B) dollars and 10-12 years. The article gives a very good and clear summary of what it takes to get a breakthrough from a lab to an authorized treatment:

"Steps to FDA approval
It’s a long, long road from the laboratory to the bedside, governed by the Food and Drug Administration. The vast majority of all drugs and therapies developed don’t make it. The American Cancer Society estimates it takes about 10 to 12 years to fully develop a drug or therapy from the laboratory to bedside use.
1. Preclinical (animal) testing. This is where Dr. Meyers team is in the process.
2. Phase 1 studies (typically involve 20 to 80 people).
3. Phase 2 studies (typically involve a few dozen to about 300 people).
4. Phase 3 studies (typically involve several hundred to about 3,000 people).
5. Submission of a new drug application is the formal step asking the FDA to consider a drug for marketing approval.
6. After an application is received, the FDA has to decide whether to file it so it can be reviewed.
7. Review of the application resulting in application approval or the issue of a response letter.
Source: Federal Food and Drug Administration"

So while this a very cool breakthrough and it looks very promising, we can expect to see it maybe in 2021 or so. However it has started my day off with a bit of cheery optimism in the middle of a week which has included an x-ray and 3 doctor appointments so far. In the meantime, I am cheering on this little virus.

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